November 12: William Grigsby Freeman (1866)

William Grigsby Freeman was a United States Army Officer. He made an inspection tour of the Department of Texas in 1853, and his reports on the military aspects of San Antonio and Fort Worth, Texas, influenced the government’s involvement there and helped spur their growth to the cities they are today. Freeman was born in Virginia in 1815. He graduated from the U. S. Military Academy in 1834, and was assigned to the fourth artillery. He served in the Florida war, and was made first lieutenant for gallantry on several occasions. In 1840 he became instructor of infantry and artillery tactics at West Point, and in the following year served on the northern frontier at Buffalo, during the Canada border disturbances. From 1841 till 1849 he served as assistant in the adjutant general’s office in Washington, D.C.

It was during this time that he married Margaret Cassatt Coleman, granddaughter of Robert Coleman, a wealthy Pennsylvania industrialist. The marriage produced six children. The most significant to Epiphany would be two daughters, Isabel and Margaret, who would become significant benefactors to the church. Freeman was chief of staff to General Winfield Scott, commanding the army headquarters at New York. He was brevetted major in 1847, and lieutenant colonel in 1848, “for meritorious conduct, particularly in the performance of his duty in the prosecution of the war with Mexico.” He served as assistant adjutant general from 1853 till 1856, when he resigned on account of failing health, which prevented his taking part in the civil war. Freeman served on Epiphany’s vestry during the war. He died in Cornwall, Pennsylvania and was buried in the family plot in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia. The head of his sarcophagus is shown in the accompanying photograph.

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